Tuesday, 20 October 2020

E Editorial

Karabakh settlement: a measure of responsibility

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The two-week stormy discussions on the topic of the upcoming meeting of Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev concluded with Pashinyan's press conference on March 19 in Yerevan. The prime minister argued for his approach to the negotiation process, citing a number of provisions from the basic documents of the 1992-94 negotiation process. The theme of the meeting of the leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan was concretized.

So, what do we have today?

  1. The statement of the Prime Minister of Armenia that he cannot represent the people of Artsakh in the negotiation process and about the need to return the leadership of Artsakh to the negotiation process.
  2. Statement by the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs on the inadmissibility of changing the format of negotiations without the prior consent of all parties.
  3. The decision of the Armenian Prime Minister is to clarify the arbitrary interpretations proposed by the Minsk Group of the three principles and the six elements of the settlement.
  4. Actualization of the problem of the OSCE Minsk Group's retreat from the provisions of its mandate of March 24, 1992, and from the decision of the Budapest Summit of the CSCE December 1994.

How one can characterize the current diplomatic situation?

In one word, it is the crisis of the Minsk process launched in 1992. More precisely, it is disarrangement of the negotiation process, which began with the decision of the 1994 Budapest Summit on the reorganization of the Council on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE) into the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). This decision entailed another decision: the reorganization of the chairmanship of the CSCE Minsk Group into a Russia-OSCE co-chairmanship. Later, the co-chairmanship took a triple form in the face of Russia, the United States and France.

Given that the Budapest Summit laid the foundation for the development of the negotiation process on the settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict on a tripartite agreement of 12 May 1994 on a cease-fire on the line of contact of troops, the mandate of the Minsk Group in 1992 lost its relevance due to inconsistencies with new solutions. However, formally, the Minsk Group composed of 11 states was not disbanded. Nonetheless, the legal framework of the negotiations was completely blurred. As a result of this, the question of which of the conflicting parties represents whom in the negotiation process has remained unanswered for a long time. Moreover, another question is still unanswered: what rights and responsibilities do the negotiators have?

It is not by chance that over time, arbitrary changes occurred in the format of the negotiations, from which was withdrawn the Karabakh side - the separate side of the conflict officially recognized by the OSCE summit in 1994. The relations of the conflicting parties began to be based not on the official decisions of the OSCE, but on the “honest word” of all those involved in the negotiation process. And the topic of negotiations left less space for any responsibility of both the opposing parties and the mediators. It is quite logical that such empty negotiations should have led to a military escalation, which we observed in April 2016. The 1994 treaty was violated by Azerbaijan, which decided to unilaterally ignore it.

Such a situation was supposed to “burst” when one of the negotiating parties declared that it would conduct negotiations on the basis of the rights and responsibilities of the parties involved in the conflict. A proposal to regulate a measure of responsibility has been introduced. And, as it turned out, here the fantasy of the OSCE Minsk Group and other interested parties was simply exhausted...

How all the actors responsible for resolving the conflict will act, time will tell.

The Armenian Center for National and International Studies

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